Biography

Birth date: 16 August 1894
Birth place: United Kingdom: Wales, Flintshire, Buckley
Death date: 21 September 1917
Death place: Western Front: Western Front (Belgium), Menin Road Area, Glencorse Wood
Final rank: Second Lieutenant
Service number: 47 - First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • 6th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 2nd Australian Field Ambulance

Frederick Birks (1894-1917) was born in North Wales, and migrated to Australia in 1913. He held different jobs before enlisting in August 1914. He was posted to the medical corps and served as a stretcher-bearer on Gallipoli; he was wounded in June 1915. In France next year he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.

Having been selected for officer-training, Birks was commissioned in the 6th Battalion, AIF, in May 1917. On 20 September, during the battle of Menin Road, Birks and a corporal attacked a German pillbox which was holding up the advance; the corporal was wounded but Birks went on, killing those in the pillbox and capturing a machine-gun. Later he led a small party against another strongpoint, capturing 16 men and killing or wounding nine others. The following day, while trying to rescue some of his men who had been buried by an explosion, the brave officer was killed by a shell. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross; the award was accepted by his brother, who was serving in the British army.

Birk received the Victoria Cross, a Military Medal, and service medals for the First World War.

Rolls and Awards

Roll of Honour

  • Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Date of Death: 21 September 1917
  • Unit: 6th Australian Infantry Battalion

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 19 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Medal

  • Unit: 2nd Australian Field Ambulance
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Medal

  • Unit: 2nd Australian Field Ambulance
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 6th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Medal

  • Unit: 2nd Australian Field Ambulance
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 6th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 6th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Military Medal

  • Unit: 2nd Australian Field Ambulance
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

A03690

A retouched portrait of Second Lieutenant Frederick Birks VC, of the 6th Battalion who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for most conspicuous bravery in an attack on 20 September 1917 at Glencorse Wood, Belgium. Second Lieutenant Birks was 23 years old when he died on 21 September...

A03690

A05358

Studio portrait of Private (Pte) (later Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt) Frederick Birks VC MM, of the 6th Battalion who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for most conspicuous bravery in an attack on 20 September 1917 at Glencorse Wood, Belgium. In July 1916 he was award the Military...

A05358

P02939.023

Studio portrait of Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt) Frederick Birks VC MM, 6th Battalion. 2nd Lt Birks was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery in attack when, accompanied by only a corporal, he rushed a strong-point which was holding up the advance" on 20 September 1917...

P02939.023

P01113.001

PHOTOGRAPH OF AN OIL PAINTED PHOTOGRAPH OF SECOND LIEUTENANT FREDERICK BIRKS VC MM (1894-1917) BY F. HORNSBY. LIEUTENANT BIRKS SERVED WITH 2ND FIELD AMBULANCE ON GALLIPOLI AND WENT ON THE WIN THE MILITARY MEDAL AT POZIERES IN JULY 1916. FIVE MONTHS BEFORE HIS DEATH HE WAS COMMISSIONED AS SUBALTERN...

P01113.001

Technology

Belgian Pocket Revolver and Holster : Second Lieutenant F Birks, 6 Battalion, AIF

Belgian five shot, double action pocket revolver and holster. The nickel plated frame has various Belgian proof marks. The two piece black plastic checkered grips have a star in the top quarter. The pistol is in a brown, ribbed leather open top holster. Hand stitched down one edge with a belt loop...

OL00580.002

Heraldry

Military Medal : Lance Corporal F Birks, 2 Field Ambulance, AIF

Military Medal (Geo V). Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00580.003

1914-15 Star : Private F Birks, 2 Field Ambulance, AIF

1914-15 Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

OL00580.004

Victoria Cross : Second Lieutenant F Birks, 6 Battalion, AIF

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender with recipient's details; reverse cross with date of action.

OL00580.001

British War Medal 1914-20 : Second Lieutenant F Birks, 6 Battalion, AIF

British War Medal 1914-20. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00580.005

Victory Medal : Second Lieutenant F Birks, 6 Battalion, AIF

Victory Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00580.006

Timeline

Date of birth 1894-08-16
Other 1913 Migrated to Australia from the United Kingdom.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-08-18 2 Field Ambulance.
Date of embarkation 1914-10-19 Sailed for Egypt.
Date wounded 1915-06-20 Wounded at Gallipoli.
Date promoted 1916-04 Promoted to Lance Corporal.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-06-10
Date of honour or award 1916-07 Awarded the Military Medal for consistant good service in the operation at Pozieres by General Birdwood.
Date promoted 1916-08 Promoted to Corporal.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-09-09
Date promoted 1917-04-26 Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and moved to the 6th Battalion.
Date of honour or award 1917-09-20 Awarded the Victoria Cross for action at Glencorse Wood, east of Ypres, Belgium whilst serving with 6 Battalion, 2 Brigade, 1 Division as a Second Lieutenant.
Date of death 1917-09-21
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-09-27